In today's society shoes are regarded as footwear products that are geared towards protecting the human foot while providing comfort to carry out several activities. In addition, they are seen as fashionable items that are used to improve self-image through providing decoration. Generally, consumer behavior and purchase decisions for these items are usually affected by various factors such as material selection, attractiveness of the store, shoe design, sales person, and pricing. As part of market research on consumer behavior when buying shoes, observations of consumers was carried out at a local Nike footwear store. The observations indicated that consumer behavior and purchase decisions are influenced by many factors in addition to those mentioned above.
Polyvore Shop is a store that provides various products to customers such as shoes or footwear based on its concept of providing a new way to identify and shop for attractive items. The shop acts as a global community that has established more than 80 million collage-like sets that are shared through online platforms. The marketing research observations for footwear items were carried out at Polyvore's headquarters. While Polyvore has a branch in New York City, its headquarters is in Mountain View, California. The store is located in downtown Mountain View across the street from Caltrain station and on the junction of Evelyn Avenue and View Street. The store's entrance is situated on the southwest corner of the building with a 2-hour parking in front of it.
As part of the company's initiatives to provide customers new means to identify and shop for the thing they love, it offers various products and brands. The major products sold at the store include Nike shoes, women's clothing, handbags, jackets, and men's clothing. The store has an available store manager who is very welcoming, helpful, proud of the working environment, understanding, and interested. This store manager was crucial to the research process because he allowed me to make my observations for two working days of 5 hours each. In addition to the store manager, the store has a workforce of young people between 20 and 30 years. While the ratio of male to female workers is equal, they are from diverse settings and knowledgeable in their respective field. As part of ensuring smooth operations in the store, the store has only 1 employee per department.
The store is located in an area with much activity since it's between the corner of Evelyn Ave and View Street. The activities in the surrounding environment of the store make it an attractive place for customers to come to be inspired and to inspire. The store has an overall huge number of customers who visit it for shopping, creating content, and to purchase attractive products. Within the first 2 hours on the first day of the marketing research, more than 100 customers had visited the shop some of whom walked in and walked out quickly. The customers who visited the store during this period were young people who seemed to be between the ages of 20 and 30 years. While some of the customers did not spend much time at the store, most of them spent lots of time comparing the prices of different items and looking around before making their purchase decisions.
Generally, I spent 5 hours in each of the two days on October 22, 2013, and October 23, 2013 in examining how customers at the store approached, compared, looked at, and made their decisions for footwear products, particularly Nike shoes. These observations were carried out between 8am and 1pm in each of the two days as agreed by the store managers. I positioned myself at an appropriate location in the footwear segment where I could observe the customers' behaviors and factors that influenced their purchase decisions. To ensure that I noted all the observations on consumer behaviors, I carried a notebook where I recorded the observations.
Upon entry at the store, consumers are welcomed by the staff at the door who make them feel welcome to ask questions during their shopping. The shop's staffs are usually upbeat, have a good attitude and are not intrusive as they seek to provide a customer-friendly environment. The staffs' reactions to customers are based on the fact that Polyvore seeks to inspire and to be inspired by customers. In addition to friendly customers, Polyvore has a good display of its footwear products. The window displays of the footwear products contain huge logo of the brand and seasonal layouts i.e. The best footwear for different seasons.
Customers who purchased the footwear products walked straight to the footwear segment upon entry at the supermarket. They did not look around at the other products offered at the store but instead went to the shoes section where they spent their time looking at the different brands before making their purchase decisions. These customers had relatively easy time in finding the footwear or shoe section at the store because of the clear directions provided for the different types of products at the store. Polyvore has also made it easy for customers to locate their footwear products of choice by grouping them in different brands.
As part of making their purchase decisions, customers compared the prices of different shoes and brands as they looked around. Some of them touched the footwear products, looked carefully at the design, and asked the store's staffs several questions regarding the quality and longevity of the shoes. They fitted the shoes and asked other customers what they thought about the specific brand of shoes and how they looked. The store staffs played a crucial role in the customers' purchase decisions by providing timely and appropriate responses to questions about the product. Generally, customers at the store would purchase any new color, change brands easily, and even purchase unbranded footwear products at the shop.
Customers who spent the least amount of time at the store spent 6 minutes and did not engage in some behaviors associated with most of the typical customers. These customers seemed to have their purchase decisions before coming to the store. They would simply walk into the store, pick their brand of choice, fit the shoes, and proceed to counter to make their payments. These customers did not interact with others and would only ask necessary questions to the staff, especially when fitting the shoes. These customers did not spend much time comparing the prices of the different brands at the store.
On the other hand, typical purchases spent an average of 15 minutes at the store before making the purchase. These customers seemed to have more time as they interacted with the store's staff and other customers. They compared prices of the different brands at the store, asked several questions, engaged in conversations with different people about the product, and fitted the shoes. Some of them would end up fitting up to three different shoes from different brands before making their purchases. In most cases, these customers seemed not to have made their decisions before coming to the store. They made their purchase decisions while at the store following comparison of brands, prices, and information they received from the staff and other customers at the store.
Analysis of Observations:
The observations at the Polyvore store footwear sections provide great insights regarding customer behavior and purchase decisions. As evident in the observations, customer behavior and purchase decisions are influenced by various factors such as the store's characteristics and the brand itself. One of the major factors that influenced the behaviors and purchase decisions of customers is the store environment. The customers' interaction with the company helped in creating an impression regarding the quality of customer service. Polyvore has ensured that it provides quality customer service by ensuring that its staffs engage with customers and provide timely help and response to them. The store's environment has also made it easier for customers to make their purchase decisions by ensuring that it's easier for them to find the products and view different brands.
Secondly, customer behavior and purchase decisions were influenced by various aspects regarding the footwear products. Actually, these customers would purchase shoes they considered innovative, attractive in light of design, style and color, and those that improved their self-image through making them look good. They did not want to purchase products they regarded as too much wear and tear and brands that did not provide comfort to them. Their decisions to try out different brands before making purchases were influenced by these significant factors.
The third major factor that influence customer behavior and purchase decisions is pricing of the footwear products. The typical purchasers spend most of their time looking at the different prices of the different footwear brands at the store. Pricing seemed to have played a major role in the purchases since some of them would choose a different brand because of its price. However, most of them would not only consider the pricing of the brand but also the quality of the…